This ballad begins: ' Room, Room, Room for a Rover, / London is so Hot; / I a Country Lover, / bless my Freedom got; / This Celestial Weather, / such enjoyment gives, / We like Birds flock hither, browsing on green leaves.' It is subtitled 'OR An Innocent Country Life prefer'd before the Noise Claymors of a Restless Town. The ballad was to be sung 'To a New Tune', not named, and was published by John Moncur of Sclater's Close in Edinburgh, in 1707.
The narrator of this ballad is extolling the virtues of an 'innocent' life in the country above a sinful existence in the town. Some of the early eighteenth century's racial prejudices and beliefs are revealed in verse two, where the narrator compares urban dwellers to 'cannibals' in the 'Eastern Regions' who are 'eas'd of all Religion'. In this period, many Scots would only have recognised Presbyterianism as a true religion. There is a certain amount of hypocrisy about the narrator, however, as he condemns townspeople as drunkards while professing his love for 'Wine that Warms the Noddle'.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Date of publication:
1707 shelfmark: S.302.b.2(111)
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